America has been thinking a lot about gun control since last month’s shootings in Colorado, but we may have another reason to think about it with the recent creation of a homemade gun by a 3D printer.
Engineer Michael Guslick claimed last week in online forum AR15.com that he had printed and fired the world’s first homemade 3D-impressed gun. Guslick said he had fired the gun over 200 times. The gun was the lower receiver of an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle.
Guslick said “to the best of [his] knowledge, this is the world’s first 3D printed firearm to actually be tested.” He also touted that creating the rifle “wasn’t that difficult.”
The printer works by utilizing layers of plastic and other flexible materials. Items it can create range from jewelry to industrial parts.
He bought the printer, which looks similar to a small fridge, for $1,000. The engineer said the printers are like “computer controlled plastic dispensers.”
Guslick found many gun blueprints online and modified them. Then he began printing. It took thirty hours for his homemade rifle base to be complete.
After adding a grip and stock to the rifle, he fired about 200 rounds. He said “it was extremely large and ungainly, but it worked.” He believes the “barrier to entry is certainly being lowered” because it doesn’t take much tech savviness to create the gun.
But he also believes criminals wouldn’t be willing to put in the effort to make a gun like his.
“Criminals are not going to give this a second thought,” he said. “They will continue to look to the black market, rather than saying ‘Oh gee, we need to buy a 3D printer.’”
Despite Guslick’s confidence in its harmlessness, the gun has many worried. Various commentators, like Mark Gibbes, have expressed their concern over the 3D gun. Gibbes wrote in Forbes that “the old NRA bumper stick ‘If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns’ will have to be changed to ‘If guns are outlawed, outlaws will have 3D printers.’”